See this dress? Does it look easy to sew/make?
Every day in the shop a few people walk in and ask about sewing lessons. We get phone calls every day asking the same. I always like to get to know them, what their goals are, whether or not they have a sewing machine and we talk about their experience with mother, grandmother or aunts who may have sewn. Most students enjoy the conversation and can’t wait to dive into sewing. They realize that learning to sew is a process that takes time.
About once or twice a month someone walks in and asks to learn to sew because they have one thing they want to make. And they want to make it by next week. And all they have is a photo on their cell phone. This ambitious project is usually (but not always) something made from lycra and lace and very stretchy. Definitely not something a beginner will tackle in their first lesson.
When I tell these ambitious potential students about the learning curve involved in sewing, that they must learn how a sewing machine operates, how to thread it, and how to sew a straight line before they make their first item – a simple project like a pillow or tote bag – some decide they do not have the patience for all that. Some become intrigued and decide to undertake a series of classes regardless of the time it takes to learn. Sewing is not for everyone.
Five Things You Need to Know if You Want to Learn to Sew:
1. Take sewing classes. Sewing may or may not be something you enjoy. Start simple, and if you enjoy the process think about buying a machine.
2. Do not rush to buy a machine. I know several people who decided they were going to learn to sew and bought a machine that just sits in their closet. They did not enjoy sewing as much as they had hoped. Before you purchase a sewing machine, ask your friends that sew what type machine they use. Test out different brands of machines when you take lessons. Choose a machine that you are comfortable using. Never order a machine online unless you are familiar with the brand name and model and have some experience with that type machine. You may luck out and find one for sale on Craigslist or an estate sale. The more you know about how a machine operates and how to use it the more qualified you are to purchase your machine.
3. Gather the proper and necessary tools and have a box or tote to store them all in. Basic supplies can be purchased at reasonable prices. What do you need? Good shears in two or three sizes; thread in various colors; seam ripper; measuring tape; seam gauge or small ruler; iron and ironing board; straight pins; disappearing or erasable fabric marking pen/pencils; safety pins; sewing clips; thimble; hand-sewing needles; pincushion. There are many other supplies to consider later on.
4. Learn to do basic hand-sewing. Sewing on buttons, hemming a skirt, mending a pair of pants – all this will build your hand-sewing skills. All machine sewing involves hand-sewing in the finish work. YouTube has wonderful tutorials in just about any area of sewing.
5. Go easy on yourself. Take your time in learning to read and understand a pattern. Choose patterns for beginners or purchase a beginner sewing book that includes patterns.
Sewing is mostly a solitary process, but it doesn’t have to be. To really enjoy sewing, find a sewing community where you can learn tips and tricks of long-time sewists and quilters. Sewists love to gather and share projects and ideas. Sew social!
Call our shop if you’re ready!
This is one of my paternal grandmother’s quilts, and it is over 100 years old. My Mammau. She was from Bayou La Fourche, Des Allmandes and Jacoby, Louisiana. I have no idea what happened to her other quilts but I am very pleased that this one was put in my care, moved from house to house, lovingly packed each time. The colors are still lovely, vivid and clear. The fabrics appear to be clothing remnants, flour sacks and such. The star patterns are not all the same design.
The faded, rough backing
The backing is also interesting – I have not been able to identify what the textiles are. Loosely woven work clothing perhaps, faded whites and blues, and the batting layer is still intact and very thick. The entire quilt is quite heavy, large and of course it’s all hand-stitched. My Mammau taught me to sew on her 1918 Singer treadle machine.
I would love to try and duplicate her patterns in this quilt but the thought of all those little pieces gives me a headache. Ok, I love to quilt – just not with pieces this small. So how do I reconcile my love of quilts and quilting and my aversion to tiny piecing? Because I know how quilting and sewing can enhance a life, and even change one’s emotional perspective. It’s all about creativity and community.
Therefore, I want to join with Scott Fortunoff of Blank Quilting Company in starting the “Sewing Revolution of 2018”. In his most recent blog, he said the following:
- I am going to continue to urge people to teach others how to sew and quilt.
- I am going to try to convince people to get a new machine and give away their old one to someone that can’t afford one.
- I am going to keep selling more fabric, of course.
- I am going to continue to donate fabric to those who can’t afford it.
If you say it more and more, people will believe it and they may venture to jump in. And in Scott’s words: “We cannot allow this great art to wither away and become a lost art” when it is so easy to embrace. “What is going to be your contribution to the Sewing Revolution?” Let’s do this and let’s have fun doing it.
Sew………. are you with me?
A couple of months ago, my husband R. was diagnosed with Metastatic Carcinoma of Unknown Primary. At first we are numb. Walking around staring at each other, trying not to get teary-eyed, but doing it anyway. Now, a few weeks down the road on this new journey, we’ve moved into another phase. Not acceptance. It’s something else for me. R. has an “attitude of gratitude”, and I’m into some other twilight zone of feeling I have not quite owned up to. I’m dealing with this new circumstance as I deal with most others.
I’m making things, keeping my hands moving. Yes, I’m escaping in a sense. Sometimes escape and denial is necessary to get you through. I’m making tiny houses. What is a house but a place where a soul resides. Little doorways. When I’m stitching, I do not have to think so much about the fact that my husband will gradually disappear from this life. But all these thoughts jump back into my stitches. I pray for him to not have pain. I try not to think about how lonely I will be in the future in this house.
I try not to think a whole lot about what I’m doing and my mind can wander off down the endless avenues of my brain. Every stitch a prayer. Going down one way I think of the beauty of the fall season here in New Orleans, which is the cooler temps. Then my thoughts take off another way and wonder about that hurricane that is forming and heading our way.
But with each stitch, each pull of this deep purple thread tightening that little doorway, I am thinking of what these cancer cells are doing to my husband day by day. And that I can do nothing to stop them, nothing to stitch those cancer cells up in a little box and burn them – and my scissors cannot cut off their threads of multiplication. It’s going to be a long journey. Over time, about twenty minutes into my little house, my brain settles into the rhythm of my stitching, and I am once again in a meditation zone. I’m not in charge. And every stitch is a prayer.
Posted in cancer, creativity, depression, healing, life-writing, memoir, Uncategorized
Tagged cancer, creativity, family, gratitude, hand-stitching, New Orleans, sewing
The creative team at Uptown Needle & CraftWorks
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YOU’RE INVITED: Don’t forget the Magazine Street Champagne Stroll on Saturday May 13, 5pm-9pm. We will be open!
The Frannie Baby
dress by Children’s Corner has to be one of the cutest baby and toddler dresses ever designed. Summertime COOL! Make it and let Kate monogram it for you! And, we have a workshop coming up!
Calling all knitters! Bring friends! Help us make “knitted knockers” for breast cancer survivors who need prostheses, 3rd Sundays.
May 21, 4pm-6pm.
Still a few spaces remaining …
We’re with you every step of the way.
|The team at Uptown Needle & CraftWorks thanks you for supporting our funky little shop.
Emma, Robert, Kate, Hannah, Kit, Meredith, Jennifer, Rebecca and Grace (our shop dog) hope to see you soon and very soon.
UPTOWN NEEDLE & CRAFTWORKS
4610 Magazine Street
New Orleans La 70115
Those of us who are creatives often feel as if there are fireworks going off in our heads. In a good way. Most of the time. I am happiest when I’m brainstorming ideas – and when I’m looking at options for a make – will this embroidered quilt square work with this color fabric? Will this hippo softie be cute made from this print? What type classes will I offer two women from Chicago who want a creative couple of days in The Big Easy?
Planning is not my strongest skill but it is becoming one of my most necessary. That’s when I use those “fireworks” to my advantage. Either by hand or on my laptop, I jot down all those thoughts (well, perhaps not ALL) that shoot out from those synapses and opposing sides of my brain. Of course these words and shorthand descriptions make no sense to anyone else, but to me it is likened to catching fireflies and putting them in a jar to be let loose after I’ve gathered them all together.
Only after I’ve gathered the fireflies can I proceed to a creative process of making something on my TO DO list, otherwise the lights may go out and the ideas may not make it back across the brain screen.
How do you “gather your fireflies” (or fireworks!)?
Can you believe we have been here for over six months? Time has flown by! Now that we are growing up a little, and we’ve hired 2 wonderful makers to help us part-time, I wanted to take time to introduce them to you. I asked them both the same 5 questions. We are fortunate to have them spend some time with us, and we hope you find Mollie and Abi as entertaining and talented as we do.
First up is Mollie Wartelle:
What would you like for us to know about you? I’m an artist, reader, traveller, nature lover. One day I want to be an archivist or a curator–maybe of textiles or old films. I have six houseplants. I’m obsessed with my dog; I wish I could take her everywhere I go.
What are your favorite creative things to do? Weaving, crocheting, pottery, paper-making, dyeing. Anything messy and kind of free form. I like natural and recycled materials: wool roving, clay, scrap paper, vegetable dyes.
What is your most favorite thing about our shop? The variety of people that come in and their projects. I love helping people find the right material for a project! There’s also something really special about working in such a brightly colored, multi-textured place. When I get home, I’m still inspired by the patterns and colors in the shop.
What is one weird but true fact about yourself? I have four pairs of clogs in various heel heights. I think there’s a secret clog cult, because I always end up having a lot in common with other people who wear them.
What kinds of things do you hope to do at Uptown Needle & CraftWorks? Contribute to a community of creatives. Exchange skills and ideas with others. Empower children and adults to create more freely. Learn the names of lots of obscure fabrics and colors.
Next, meet Abigail Wynn Wilson
What would you like for us to know about you? I started sewing in high school Home Economics and totally fell in love. I took every class they offered, all on quilting, then Independent Study and assistant teaching. I just couldn’t get enough! I bought my own sewing machine my first year of college and immediately began sewing clothes, trial and error style. I’m the queen of seam ripping, especially when I learned I could take apart old clothes to use as patterns and/or “upcycled fabric.” I also became an avid thrift shopper, altering too-big, too-torn and too-ugly into totally new clothes! I started to fix items from thrift stores for other students: my seamstress business was born! It’s a joy for me to help people develop their style by making their clothes fit just right, plus I love that people come to me with style ideas and inspiration that I can help make reality! Clothes are so important to me because it’s our second skin, it creates confidence and helps us express our personalities, but there’s no reason to break the bank for a great outfit!
What are your favorite creative things to do? Sewing is my first love, but I also like to write stories and poems. I often cut up magazines to make mood boards and colorful collages; it’s the best crafty therapy because you actually can’t make mistakes pasting paper, plus I always have happy ah-ha moments when I mentally let go and just make, in creativity and in life!
What is your most favorite thing about our shop? I absolutely adore the funky-fabulous dolls that Mollie and Jennifer create, they are so unique and uplifting! I’m also in love with our fabric selection. I’ve been to so many fabric stores in my life and I’ve never seen such an impressive selection of playful patterns and bold prints. It’s a potential project wonderland in here!
What is one weird but true fact about yourself? I moved to New Orleans.
What kinds of things do you hope to do at Uptown Needle & CraftWorks? I want to sew sweet things with all the fabulous fabric! I’ve always wanted to learn to knit! Right now I’m imagining some fun new projects like slip on slippers and zipper bags that could become fun beginner classes! I just want to encourage New Orleans to get crafty and creative; expand your individual style with your own two hands (and a sewing machine!). Just being inside Uptown Needle & CraftWorks fills me with excited, creative energy; there is no limit to what kind of wonderful things can come from that!
Come see us! Peace Be,
What? Only March?
Those of us who are “makers” know that every day is craft day (or we wish it were so). A friend, Lisa Craig, re-introduced me to the fine art of hand embroidery. Long forgotten stitches reappeared across the screen of my brain: chain stitch, French knot, lazy daisy and even the fun feather stitch. Yes, I did have to google these to remember how to do them.
I’ve been wanting to make some pattern weights for a while now and I found a sweet pattern for tetrahedron weights made from cotton fabric and filled with rice at Sachiko Aldous’ blog, Tea Rose Home. I tried a few from her instructions; however, these were not weighty enough for me. So off to the Big Box I went to look for weights. First I looked at fishing weights, but those are made of lead and I felt they were unsafe. Also a little pricey. Especially compared to rice. Next I looked at old fashioned Daisy BBs. Brought back memories of my brothers shooting squirrels with these, but I digress. Also cost more than rice, but the best alternative for weight, I believe. I purchased two heavy packs of steel BBs, got some strange looks from folks in the checkout line. I imagine they were wondering what this mammau was going to do with 12,000 BBs. (Okay, so I’m a little compulsive.) I’m happy say it was not necessary to use the retorts that quickly came to mind – and believe me, I had several imaginary stories ready.
But back to the real story here. I cut my little triangles out of wool felt because I wanted to try my hand at simple embroidery on these. My French knots look decent, but my chain stitching needs practice, after all it has been over 40 years since I’ve embroidered. In celebration of National Craft Month I made the entire set of 6 with only hand sewing.
They are filled with steel BBs and are weighty enough that the pull of scissors cutting on fabric will not easily move them from placement on a pattern. And who will know they are filled with .177 caliber steel airgun pellets. I think they turned out beautifully, don’t you? No more pinning patterns for moi! And I have enough BBs to make more sets for my sewing friends! Wanna try your hand at a few? All begins with 3.5″ triangles, fold each end up to the center, press and stitch. And use 100% wool felt. There’s nothing better. So celebrate! Make something, and send me a pic!
Posted in creativity, embroidery, Hand sewing, New Orleans, patterns, sewing, textile art, Uncategorized
Tagged embroidery, hand sewing, pattern weights, sewing, Uptown Needle & Craftworks
Have you ever experienced someone crossing your path and you knew at once it was divine intervention? A few weeks ago, a woman was walking past our shop on Magazine Street and she made a sudden decision to go inside and look around. That woman was Claire Koch. She saw the beautiful fabrics, and she told me the touching story of her daughter’s experience with ‘heart pillows’. Within that conversation we developed an idea, and within minutes we had a plan. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, February 20-22, we will have a “Heart-a-Thon” and sew as many heart pillows as we can. More details below. But first, Claire’s story – so appropriate for this Valentine’s Day: “My daughter was born 6 weeks early during a hurricane evacuation. But that was not the shocking news for me. It came when the doctors told me something was very wrong with her heart and she would need surgery. My baby had her heart “fixed” at four months of age. It was not lost on me that I lived in a country where the best health care in the world was provided to my precious baby. I made a deal with my God: if he made sure my baby recovered I promised to one day help other children. That was the beginning of my 16-year journey to this point. Once my daughter began to grow up and become more independent, I started to look for organizations I could join to help other heart children. I had a difficult job finding the right organization that I felt used the funds completely for the kids, and one where I could be a volunteer for as well. Until I read about HeartGift in the newspaper. HeartGift in a non-profit organization dedicated to providing lifesaving heart surgery to children from developing countries where access to specialized medical care is either scarce or nonexistent. Participating pediatric physicians donate 100% of their time and talents and HeartGift assumes all other financial obligations for the child and mother. The only thing the families are responsible for is seeing their children grow and flourish. HeartGift has five chapters in Texas and one here. We could not achieve our success without our partnership with Children’s Hospital here in New Orleans. I have been with HeartGift since 2011 and have seen 20 children through the surgery and recovery process. I have been at the airport welcoming a weak and frail child, only to watch that same child return to the airport 5 weeks later to run past angered TSA agents. But it is the courage of the mothers that gets to me each and every time. These mothers leave their villages and countries for the first time and make long trips to New Orleans to seek help from complete strangers in a foreign land. They hand over their child to us. It is amazing to see the hope and trust in their eyes. While I have spent many hours in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) I have noticed every year we see a few heart shaped pillows arrive for the patients. In the past, a local Boy Scout troop made twenty or so pillows for the kids each year.These pillows do not just brighten up the room but proved to be more effective to use than a regular pillow to press against a child’s chest post-surgery when a child starts to cough. Coughing is normal post surgery, but can be extremely painful. The nurses use a pillow to press into the child’s rib cage to help cushion the child’s ribs as they cough. I happened to meet Emma when I was walking down Magazine Street. I am so excited she has offered to do a “Heart-a-Thon” to produce needed pillows for all the children in the Heart Center of Children’s Hospital. Currently, there are 22 beds in the ICU. Many of them are filled with little babies who do not need the pillows, but the kids who are two and up, as well as teens, could sure use some of your loving handiwork! The pillows will be a valued dearly by the children recovering from heart surgery, their families and the staff of the Heart Center at Children’s Hospital.” Come join our “Heart-a-Thon! Uptown Needle & CraftWorks will donate fabrics. Clair has already purchased fiberfil. Now we need you – to cut out hearts, sew, stuff, and hand stitch – for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour of your time on either of the days above. We will have sewing machines set up, fabrics and scissors at the ready. Experienced sewists needed to come and assist! You will be glad you did. February 20-22, Friday and Saturday 10-5pm, Sunday noon-5pm. Below are a few pictures of some of the kids HeartGift hosted last year. You may get in touch with Claire Koch at Claire@ClaireKoch.net. Learn more at HeartGift.org.
Posted in charity, childhood, creativity, Heart, New Orleans, sewing, volunteer
Tagged Children's Hospital, Claire Koch, heart, Heart Center, HeartGift, pillows, sewing, Uptown CraftWorks
Modern Patterns With Vintage Looks.
Due to our limited space, we have a carefully curated stock of fabrics and sewing patterns at our shop; however, this does not limit your choices. We stock a few Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, Hot Patterns and Colette sewing patterns among others. Many have a vintage look, with waistlines fitted sleeves. I certainly do not want to criticize the major pattern companies like McCalls, Simplicity, Butterick, etc., and they will do very well no matter what I say, but I’ve seen very few designs that excite me in their lines. Everything seems rather stale. On the other hand, I am amazed at the number of independent pattern designers on the web. Designers are much like writers … they struggle with how to publish their work to the widest audience possible.
Our culture is full of people of varied tastes in clothing and accessories and there’s a designer out there creating patterns and concepts that will please every one of us. And even with that, we can still personalize a design to make it our own by changing the collar, the hemline, the sleeve. So many designers are opting to sell their pdf sewing patterns on Etsy.com that there are now over 26,000 pdf patterns available for sale on that site alone! And printing a pdf pattern is so easy, and easy to put together. Many top designers offer pdf patterns on their websites at a much lower cost than paper patterns. Check out some independent designers here.
And check out those listed below – with patterns for everything from lingerie to shoes, and costumes, indie patterns are here to stay. See what they have to offer. Who is your favorite pattern designer?
CONTEMPORARY FASHION, ACCESSORY, and OTHER APPAREL PATTERNS (adult and children)
Akasha Clothing Company
All Dunn Designs
Amy Butler Design
Angela Wolf Patterns
Anna Maria Horner
Artsy Crafty Babe
Bali Collection Birch Street Clothing Patterns
Bettsy Kingston Patterns
Brown Paper Patterns
Chris W. Designs
Christine Haynes Patterns
Christine Johnson Patterns
CNT Pattern Co.
Cutting Line Designs
Dana Marie Patterns
Darlene Miller’s Clothes 4 You
Design and Planning Concepts
Fashion in Harmony Patterns
Fashion Patterns by Coni
Favorite Things Patterns
Figgy’s Sewing Patterns
Fit For Art Patterns
Fit Me Patterns
Frog Legs and Ponytails
Georgia Leigh Designs
Great Copy Patterns
Green Pepper Patterns
Heather Bailey Patterns
Islander Sewing Systems Patterns
J. Stern Designs
June Colburn Designs
Kayla Kennington Patterns
Lauren Marsh Sewing Patterns
Lazy Girl Designs
Lila Tueller Designs
Lingerie Secrets by Jan Bones
Little Lizard King
L.J. Designs Patterns
Lorraine Torrence Designs and Grainline Gear
Mary Jo Hiney Designs
Megan Nielsen Patterns
Noodles and Milk
Oliver + S
Park Bench Patterns
Pat Bravo Patterns
Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop
Petite Plus Patterns
Pink Poodle Bows
ReVisions by Diane Ericson
Scientific Seamstress patterns
SewKeysE by Emma Seabrooke
Shapes Patterns (cuttinglinedesigns.comANDsewingworkshop.com)
Sis Boom patterns (Jennifer Paganelli)
Skinny Chick Curvy Bitch
SomaPatterns by Sylvie P
Sprouts Sewing Patterns
Stretch and Sew
Studio Kat Designs
SuitAbility Equestrian Patterns
Textile Studio Patterns
The Bali Collection
The Classics by Cecelia Podolak
The Cottage Mama
The Fashion Sewing Group
The Handmade Dress
The Sewing Workshop
Tie Dye Diva Patterns
Trudy Jansen Design
Victoria Jones Collection
Violette Field Threads
You Sew Girl
AND FOR COSTUMES: HISTORICAL & REPRODUCTION VINTAGE PATTERNS
Burnley & Trowbridge Patterns
Country Wives Patterns
Dawn Anderson Designs
Decades of Style
Dressing History Patterns
Fig Leaf Patterns
Granny’s Attic Patterns
Green River Forge
Heidi Marsh Patterns
J.P. Ryan Patterns
La Fleur de Lyse
La Mode Bagatelle
Laughing Moon Mercantile Patterns
Mantua-Maker Historical Sewing Patterns
Margo Anderson’s Historic Costume Patterns
Mill Farm Patterns
Missouri River Patterns
Mrs. Depew Vintage
New Vintage Lady
Olde Country Costumes
Patterns of History
Patterns of Time
Pegee of Williamsburg
Period Impressions Patterns
Randwulf Sewing Patterns
Reconstructing History Patterns
Richard the Thread
Rocking Horse Farm
Sense and Sensibility Patterns
Smoke and Fire
Vintage Pattern Lending Library